Uthando luphelile

Reflections on the end of forever

Unsplash image by: Andreas Haslinger

My former partner and I broke up a few months ago. Since then, I have written plenty poems and notes/ reflections, cried funeral tears, regretted what I know deep down was the right decision and gone on Bumble (at the bidding of my friends) to remind myself that I may meet someone as interesting and awesome one day, because they exist (apparently).

My first time in-between

A collision of already and not yet.

Of mourning and expectancy.

Of death and life.

Relief bathed in the stinging of loss.

Eyes wide awake to nurse an aching heart and tend to the beckoning new dreams.

Dying as a prelude to the resurrection.

A bitter sweetness that I fully own.

And welcome.

Sitting in it all.

Grateful for it all.

Uthando luphelile

I have always found Xhosa to be more expressive and apt in wielding itself as a language to communicate my most obscure and nebulous thoughts/ feelings. But when it comes to love, sometimes I have struggled. NgesiXhosa, the best way I would describe a breakup is as ukuphela kothando. But that doesn’t sound like a true statement. The love did not end, the relationship did. Uphela kothandana maybe is a truer, though less sexy phrase. Though it still doesn’t sound very correct.

This break up has been monumental for me because my relationship was so wholesome – truly. My former partner was such an amazing partner, and so humble. He was constantly trying to live according to God’s will and to find ways to love me better. Even our break up was very us – a good conversation where we conceded that sometimes love, chemistry and affection are just not enough. Lots of apologies for what could have been done better, and a hopeful hand at a future friendship. So now you understand why I have had to cry funeral tears. My loss is heavy and it hurts just as bad. But the break up was necessary – I hope I always remember this.

Looking at my journal entries from the months before we broke up, I see a lot of prayer requests and questions around “direction for my relationship”. I knew that something had to give and that we needed direction. And a break up is direction, maybe not the kind I was hoping for, but it is direction nonetheless. And for that I am grateful for answered prayer. I don’t have the bandwidth, and to be honest, the desire, to go through what exactly happened. I will though, insert the poem that feels like it best explains it below.

Dear love,

Even the depth of you could not rout distance.

Granted, you spread yourself like a carpet, welcoming us at your table. Setting our places specifically.

Then wrapping us tight in your warmth; and allowing us to feast even to the bone of the depth of you.

We’ve smiled widely at and with you,

danced unencumbered in your presence,

drank you in and settled the full weight of us on your sturdy knees.

Our constant “damn you ocean”, protestations serving as both a prayer and promise that we could vanquish its efforts to play gully between us.

And try we did.

The promise of forever clawing impatiently at your window.

We’ve welcomed its advent and conclusion.

The trail we cling to tightly still, is a lifetime of gratitude in our luck for having met you at your best.

What wonder. Amen.

Though valorous in effort, burning all your ends to serve as both lighthouse and compass, we now capitulate to space, a more fervid opponent against any of you that we could conjure.

We bless the Lord for the breadth of you,

breathing you in still.

The cost of you was a one we could not augur, an existence bound.

Forever in transit.

Laughter caged in moments neither here nor there, anxiously floating somewhere in between.

Lives firmly settled in the middle, a thick cloud of uncertainty hanging in the space between us.

Plans up in the air; Waiting.

When people asked you about us and distance, you’d always say: “what’s the alternative to distance? Not being together? There is no choice there for me, together is all I see. I’d rather be together than apart, so this is always better.”

What you meant to say was, this is the cost of love we hadn’t accounted for:

Existing at half mast, anchored on an expectation to one day put down roots.

Chests heavy with decisions about our lives that never fully felt like ours.

Or ever fully fledged, or flowed or flew.

Our lives, waiting to be exhaled.

That we were burning ourselves at the altar of love to the death of us.

So love, know that even you – the best of symphonies, cannot fill the space of a slipping “someday”.

Cannot anchor uncertainty in any certainty.

Cannot bring meaning to days numbered “not yet”.

Cannot give us permission to individually live ferociously; and fully; and freely.

The unoccupied space between is a mightier opponent than the sum of us and you.

Lives lived as though the starter pistol hasn’t gone off, with two people eagerly waiting to take off, cannot but yield bitterness

In this post, we are not going to dwell on how sad I am, but instead focus on my points of gratitude. We will take the beauty that we see in these ashes and embrace it.

One of the things I will always treasure about my former partner is how he taught me to lean into my feelings. He also taught me to name my monsters, my personality and to actively work on these. To be okay with being soft and vulnerable. To like chivalry and care. He also taught me that I could be absolutely devoted to another. And that love is risky. He taught me how to say things with my chest, and to be careful how I use my words even as I learnt to use them more. To season my speech with kindness and grace, and that being candid/blunt isn’t a synonym for being hurtful and mean.

I am also grateful that I had the courage to vocalise it when it seemed like time to review the relationship. And that we both had the courage to say “okay, maybe this isn’t healthy anymore. Maybe the most loving thing to do since we aren’t married is to choose to walk away. Maybe choosing one another means helping the other person become the best version of themselves through walking away”.

Sometimes, walking away is the greatest form a love.

It is to say: the version of you I fell in love with is found somewhere else, so I welcome that.

Because I would rather see you as the best version of yourself than merely have any version of you.

This post is about gratitude. For the love that was, and for the friendship and tenderness. For a collision of worlds and cultures and people and how all that made love multiply. For what it looks like to walk in love for two imperfect people sincerely pursuing Christ. For adventures and trips where it didn’t matter where we were, so long as we were together. For ever feeling love, sharing it and walking in it fully.

2 responses to “Uthando luphelile”

  1. Beautiful, sad… I have to probe and ask, why you chose to walk away and not get married? was that (marriage) not on the table? p.s: i’m sorry to read about your break up, i will be praying that you find healing for your sadnes

    Like

    1. Hey Njabz

      Thanks friend for the prayers. In terms of your question, lol can I answer you on WhatsApp rather?

      Like

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